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Nontraditional vs. purists

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  • swamp Feb 10, 2009 06:10 AM
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I am a chowhound that just does not understand my purist friends that post on these boards. While I value the traditional way certain dishes have always been prepared I do not think there is anything wrong with trying a new method. Two things come to mind. It seems anytime someone mentions beans in chili or mayo in guacamole someone will invariably post a note that takes an indignant tone because that is not how these two dishes should be made. Come on, it is all a matter of taste. Personally I am a born and bred Texan and I can't stand chili without beans and I always add a little mayo to my guac. Is there something I just do not get?

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  1. There is nothing to get . . . you like what you like and I like what I like. You mentioned two things I really don't like. After growing up eating chili with bean, once I had it without them, I found out that I really liked chili a lot! Of course when my mom made it not only did we have bean in it, but we crushed either saltines or oyster crackers in it, as well. I don't do that anymore either. My chili recipe does not have beans. But if you want them, you can have them on the side and add them.

    Guacamole, to me, should just be mashed avocado, some lemon or lime juice, slat, a touch of garlic and that's it. Why? Because I love the flavor of the avocado too much to dilute it with other condiments. Same with my steaks. Please do not smother mine in a sauce, mushrooms, or offer me Heinz 57. If I have to add something to cover the taste of the beef, well it must not be that good. A bit of au jus, or maybe some marinade is okay as long as it compliments, not covers up the taste of the meat. But now give me a baked potato and anything goes. I will put all types of things on it. Same with pasta, bean soup, salads, and ham, chicken and tuna salads. Some things are meant to experiment with, others, not so much. Just my opinion.

    1 Reply
    1. re: danhole

      I agree with the second paragraph totally. I like beans in Chili though! :D

    2. I'm one of those people who often gets into such discussions, but I'm more of a language purist than a food purist. If you want to make a change that alters the essential character of a dish, and the result still tastes good, that's fine - just don't call it by the same name. Examples that have ticked me off include someone who makes "panna cotta" without using cream, or throws a chicken into a crock pot with some white beans and calls it "cassoulet." The former might be a tasty low-fat custard, and the latter a delicious chicken stew, but they are absolutely not panna cotta or cassoulet, and it's language abuse to say that they are.

      13 Replies
      1. re: BobB

        Bob has a good point there. Here's my $0.2:

        I'd argue that if a recipe is globally recognised, there must be something going for it right? Say guacamole. So I'd say change it and tweak it the way you like it, but it may be far from the original - and you'd have to have tried the original to know that.

        1. re: Soop

          Thats, uh, 20 cents, ahem.

          Sorry to nitpick.

          1. re: Cebca

            And in these economic times; goodness.

        2. re: BobB

          well said.

          by the way, i'm of the ilk that supports calling california champagne exactly that, but mostly because it tastes very different from all french champagnes i've tried. if they really were made in the same style, by all means, call it champagne (but label it from california).

          1. re: cimui

            Sort of like Chicago style pizza vs NY style pizza or CA pizza, I agree.

            1. re: cimui

              It shouldn't be called champagne at all - Champagne is a region in Northern France. It should be proudly named after its own region of origin, such as Napa for example. It can of course be described as champagne method if it is.

            2. re: BobB

              Couldn't be more accurate, BobB. Well written. Do whatever you like with food but call things what they actually are.

              1. re: ccbweb

                Ditto on that one. Here is FL, we have a NY pizza place claiming NY pizza. Well according to NY ers ... it isn't. But it is the pizza their parents always got and called it NY pizza.

                Just enjoy the food you like, who cares where it originated from or if it is original in ingredients if it is good that should be all that matters to you and your friends who enjoy it.

                1. re: kchurchill5

                  Reminds me of driving through New Jersey back around 1971. I saw a place offering "Boston Style Pizza." Being a native Bostonian, I had to stop in and ask them about it - turns out it was pizza made with cheddar instead of mozzarella. I explained to them that I was from Boston and that we did not in fact make pizza with cheddar.* They explained to me very colorfully exactly how much they cared.

                  (*Curiously, a decade or so later there was in fact a short-lived Boston-area chain called Cheddar's that specialized in cheddar cheese pizza, but it hadn't been invented when this conversation took place.)

              2. re: BobB

                BobB, I agree with you about "language abuse," but at what point does it become food abuse? When do we completely lose the original dish?

                I almost hate to bring it up, but do you remember the long and testy thread on CH about bruschetta some time ago? The esteemed item went from grilled bread to a reviled TV Triscuits commercial that implied that the *topping* on the Triscuit was the bruschetta.
                From the discussion, we learned that there are jars of tomato based concoctions being sold as "bruschetta" and fast food outlets offering "bruschetta chicken."
                The food item itself has lost its original meaning to large numbers of the public who seem to think that bruschetta is the tomato stuff.

                The same is likely true of "pulled pork." A simple descriptive term for a pork shoulder cooked in a specific way in the Carolinas.
                You can do a somewhat successful imitation on a home grill or even in an oven, but now people are routinely doing it in crock pots which is a completely different matter altogether as the meat is essentially steamed.
                That wet pork dish may be the only way that many people have ever eaten "pulled pork" so is that their standard? If they were to be served the real thing, would they find it lacking by comparison? Perhaps "inauthentic"? Not as good?
                But how can you not call the crock pot pork "pulled pork"? It's pork and you pulled it apart, didn't you?

                1. re: MakingSense

                  Food abuse takes place when the thing being substituted is not only no longer what the name would imply but is also simply bad food, like cheap jarred salsa on a Triscuit, or the infinite abominations sold under the name "pizza."

                  "When do we completely lose the original dish?"

                  As long as Chowhound is around, NEVER! We are here to fight the good fight. That's why I always forge into such discussions with my purist banner held high.

                  1. re: BobB

                    Soooo, there you are, Brave BobB, on the LEFT side of my computer screen.
                    And on the RIGHT side?
                    The CHOW recipe writers doing their best to come up with "new takes" on classic recipes and destroying everything in their path.
                    Just while I read this post, there is "New Orleans King Cake for Mardi Gras" which looks NOTHING like anything in that fine city and NONE of the comments were a bit happy with it either! The King Cake Baby looks like it got caught in a ditch cave-in and there's no colored sugar. Disaster. Why does CHOW do this?
                    Then of course, the dreaded "crustless" quiche, which at least they sort of refer to as a "Frittata Lorraine."

                    I fear that the number of participants in Chowhound is statistically too small to turn back the tide. Even on CH, the numbers of people who have adopted new food terminology from TV cooks, odd restaurant descriptions,marketing programs, and simple lack of knowledge is sometimes surprising.
                    Most people don't even own dictionaries any longer and are willing to trust whatever they get from Google as a valid source of information.

                    1. re: MakingSense

                      Carpe Chowdom! Excelsior! Give no quarter! Give me pure food or give me none!
                      Chowhounds of the world unite! Down with "lite", up with slow cooking. Ersatz is a bouillabaisse bourgeois bullshit! No more newness is goodness bigness is better!

              3. I'm not a purist. I've said before - I think they miss all the fun!

                However I'm in agreement with both Bob and Danhole that if a dish is a vast departure from the time-tested original than call it something else, and if you like it one way and I like it another isn't it great that we're both satisfied?!

                Phoo-D
                http://www.phoo-d.com

                2 Replies
                1. re: Phoo_d

                  I often tweak recipes out of cookbooks, so when I serve them I'll say it's based on a pepper steak recipe. Then when I re-write the recipe I name it "Dani's pepper steak", or something along those lines. When I pass the recipe along I sure don't want someone to think my version is authentic, cuz it ain't!

                  1. re: Phoo_d

                    Agreed.

                  2. Nothing wrong with tweaking or even wholesale changing a recipe to make it how you want (or think you want) it to taste. But many traditional recipes got that way because they tasted pretty good already - that is, something that's been around for a long time has survived for a reason. I like to experience a traditional dish the way it's 'meant' to be, and then experiment afterwards if necessary; but I like to know where the dish is starting from.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Bat Guano

                      I usually have to tweak because my DH is so very picky that if a dish has certain ingredients in it he will not touch it. If I want to taste it as it should be, I have to go get it elsewhere. Then figure out how I can make it so he will actually eat it! Sad, but true.

                    2. Yep, you're missing the link that food has to history and culture.
                      There's nothing at all wrong with anybody changing any dish that they serve to suit their own tastes but they should recognize that they have CHANGED it. Depending on the degree to which they change it, it loses its character and its connection to its roots.

                      The current trend toward local, regional, and seasonal foods should make this easy to understand because ALL foods were once local, regional, and seasonal before preservation and shipping are what they are today. You cooked what was there when it was available.
                      That meant that there was a REASON why certain ingredients were included or not included in dishes.

                      Key Lime Pie was made with condensed milk in the Florida Keys because there was little fresh dairy. Including cream cheese is a no-no and chocolate is really over the edge. Those two things make a nice dessert but that ain't a Key Lime pie.
                      Andouille sausage is not a Carolina Low Country foodstuff nor are mushrooms, yet they seem to appear in many recipes for Shrimp and Grits. Why? They're good and people like them. Go ahead and use them but recognize that your dish is not in any way traditional.
                      I'm from Louisiana and want to cry sometimes when I hear what people do to Creole and Cajun food. I absolutely keep those home fires burning, cooking like my grandmothers did. That being said, if you like "your" gumbo, enjoy it! Please don't make pronouncements about gumbo when you've been to New Orleans once.

                      Food has a story to tell.
                      We constantly hear people bemoan the lack of an "American cuisine." We have one. True heritage foods that arose from our local, regional, and seasonal foods, prepared by our ancestors across the US as they settled the original colonies and expanded Westward across the Plains and to the Pacific.
                      Chucking Hellman's into the guacamole is fine but we lose the links that we have to the settlers who shared that heritage with Mexican and Spanish settlers in the Southwest, and at some point that history disappears. A friend of mine from one of those old families calls avocados "the mayonnaise of the poor" and uses it as a sandwich spread, preferring it to mayo; it was her child's first solid food.
                      We serve the beans on the side when we have chili at our house. Always considered the plain Bowl of Red a little "one note" and thought it needed some other stuff on the table. If anybody mixes them in, I don't get upset. But the chili itself is straight up - like on some long-ago cattle drive, hand-cut meat, red with chilis and nothing more.

                      So call me a dreamer. I would love to see the result of the interest in local, regional, and seasonal food being a return to interest in the classics. People learning to use the basics to their glory. Using the very best available and highlighting the intrinsic fresh flavors of the seasons with technique and joy, rather than "doctoring" them up with mayo or other condiments.
                      As Michael Pollan suggested, "Eat like your grandmother ate." Or even your great, great, great, great....

                      9 Replies
                      1. re: MakingSense

                        You do make sense. Well done!
                        Guilty as charged. I think my food desires are a form of regionalism. I've lived a long time in the southwest w/ Hispanic in-laws. I now live in New England. What is called chili up here bears little resemblance to what my old farming family in-laws made for generations in New Mexico. The same w/ guacamole; call it green sauce and I don't care what goes in it. Funny, it's even hard to find traditional New England style clam chowder in New England. My Russian immigrant grandparents made and my childhood church continues to make traditional Russian kobasi. (sausages). The store bought bear little resemblance; a lack of knowledge of the tradition? When I do a stir fry, I don't call it Chinese something or other, I don't have the knowledge; but simply an Asian style stir fry.
                        I think when someone plays with a traditional, regional food and has no knowledge of that region, but calls the food by the original name it thereby becomes foreign to that region and no longer is identifiable by the same name.
                        There will be now agreement here. Maybe travel is the answer. Go to the homeland of the food and learn to make it there first; then play with it.
                        Boy are we a principled lot.
                        Is ketchup ok on hot dogs? Remember?

                        1. re: MakingSense

                          A friend just gave me a cookbook from the '30s that's a compendium of regional American cuisines. Really fascinating. It shows how people handled regional ingredients before mass distribution and before convenience foods started taking over in the '50s. Some of the recipes that are presented very matter of factly would seem very "daring" today, like game recipes.

                          1. re: Ruth Lafler

                            I've heard it posited that the greatest single change in American food came with WWII.
                            For the first time, millions of Americans were away from home and the foods they had grown up with, i.e. regional foods. American wasn't the transient country that it is now.

                            Millions of American men were drafted into or joined the military and ate in military mess halls. At the end of WWII , there were 13 million in uniform and there had been hundreds of thousands of deaths and casualties. http://www.history.army.mil/brochures... That was about 10% of the total US population.
                            Others had moved to cities and towns near military bases or war production plants far from their homes to aid the war effort.

                            The food in military mess halls was "mid-Western American." No regional specialties. I remember my father telling us how much hated breakfast with no grits, never having gumbo or any of the good Cajun and Creole foods that he loved from his Louisiana home.

                            Of course, tastes changed as well, and soldiers learned that there were other good foods out there and they took the new ideas home with them.
                            Homogenization of American tastes might well have begun in WWII - not with convenience foods of the 50s, that perhaps only made it easier to find those "general mid-Western American" flavors that hey had been introduced to.
                            The guys LIKED that food more than they let on.

                            1. re: MakingSense

                              I read somewhere once that US consumption of oregano tripled after WWII due to the increase in pizza consumption.

                              1. re: MakingSense

                                Another factor of the homogenization of American food in the post-war period was the rise of the suburb and the supermarket. Instead of shopping at small independent markets that sourced their foods locally based on local "foodways" people started moving out of their home towns and city neighborhoods (many of them ethnic) into suburbs where they shopped at chain markets that carried a much more generic product mix, chosen at company HQ and purchased and distributed through mass distribution channels.

                                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                  Directly related to the GI Bill which allowed returning servicemen to buy houses with no money down. This led to the rapid building of suburbs, the building of roads, and then small shopping centers to serve those suburbs.
                                  Many families retained the houses that they owned in the cities and converted them to rentals, which led in turn to the decline of inner cities in many cases.

                                  The next big "advance" was the interstate highway system begun during the Eisenhower Administration which made food distribution over long distances even easier.

                                  1. re: MakingSense

                                    What annoys me is that when I hear discussions about the problems of buying fresh foods in poor inner city neighborhoods, the issue is almost always framed as a lack of supermarkets. Supermarkets are not the be all and end all of grocery shopping, and are actually quite poorly suited to the needs of urbanites. Supermarkets are best for people who can take their car to the market and load up with a week's worth of groceries. For people who don't have cars and who don't have homes with storage areas for large amounts of groceries, having smaller but more numerous stores, including specialty stores like bakeries and delis -- which still remains the norm in many big cities -- is really a better option.

                                    1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                      Can't say I agree with you. I'm an urbanite, and can easily go a week or more without getting in my car. I hit the supermarket pretty much daily and buy no more than I can carry. At the one I frequent most, it seems pretty clear that the majority of customers are doing the same thing. Just because a store is big doesn't mean you need to buy lots of stuff at once.

                                      Delis and bakeries are fine for what they specialize in - couldn't live without 'em - but there are practically no small stores left selling good fresh produce, except for some ethnic ones that carry a very limited selection. So for produce I visit the farmers' markets in season, and the rest of the year (more than six months, here in the northeast) I rely on supermarkets, and am lucky enough to have three, including a Whole Foods, within walking distance of my house. But of course, I'm in an affluent urban area. Lack of supermarkets is a legitimate issue in poor neighborhoods.

                                      1. re: BobB

                                        I think it comes down to supply and demand. When I was in Japan, I ate very little fruit because one piece typically cost at least $1.50 upwards. I also found that I spent much more than I spend in the US shopping on a daily basis, but I was lucky enough to afford it. For most lower income families, there's no option to replace food that goes bad, so instead they choose frozen/canned food that will last until they're able to eat it.

                          2. I like stuff that is delicious, whether it's traditional or not, and I judge it by that criteria. If one is going to change a recipe, I'd like the modified version to produce something more delicious, not less.

                            1. Mayo in guacamole? Really? I've never heard of such a thing. Personally, as long as something tastes good I don't really care what's in it or whether it's "traditional" or not.

                              1. better mayo in guacamole than ranch dressing

                                but agree with other posters, it can be difficult to know what is original and what is a change, especially depending on where you were raised.

                                1. Me ... NON TRADATIONAL. I think you should eat what you like, believe it what you make and enjoy your friends and family through food.

                                  True, there are the ORIGINALS ... who really knows where they began and who cares. If I like mayo in Guac, fine, my fried fish has red pepper, my best friends doesn't. Every city, state and regions and country have their favorites. To me ... cooking is what brings people together and if my friends like velveeta and salsa, by god they will have velveeta and salsa for the superbowl. Not my favorite, but I try to make sure my guests are happy and we have fun. I try to cook healthy, smart but I work and am a single mom, It isn't easy. I take short cuts, I eat frozen food, I eat fast food, but I always try. But MY Reuben may not be traditional but damn... it is good :) Like anything. We all have favorites and all have OUR what we call the CLASSICS. Just enjoy food and share it with others.

                                  1. Food is emotional, especially if it's something that someone views as part of their heritage. I don't mind people adapting their own recipes, but I'm also opinionated about certain dishes more than others. Some of this comes from having several terrible examples of a given dish.

                                    27 Replies
                                    1. re: rockfish42

                                      JUst a thought. I'm a native northeasterner, but lived in the southwest, Why is it that the north east has so much trouble making foods of the south west? Mexican food in general, but
                                      specifically, Fajitas, quesadillas, tacos and chile; BBQ and okra. In my experience, very poor imitations. Why?

                                      1. re: Passadumkeg

                                        Don't know, but I make some excellent BBQ (in the Boston area), besides, never thought of BBQ as a southwest thing, more midwest and southeast, no?

                                        1. re: AHan

                                          Comes from the Spanish word barbacoa in Mexico. Also via cuba to the southeast. Just for fun google: Lockhart Tx BBQ. I thought I did good Q too until I went to Smitty's then Kreuz's.

                                          1. re: Passadumkeg

                                            Actaully, from what I understand, the Mexican origin actually was predated by carribean origins, barabicu being the operative word. Spread up through Florida and the Carolinas.

                                            1. re: AHan

                                              Food, including guac varies greatly from region to region in Mexico. Americans think in terms of Tex-Mex. Case in point, a Mexican friend makes her guac with milk and insists it must be mixed with a rubber spatula. That's the way people in her native village and her mama made it, so that's what she does here. But her chile rellenos and mole are to die for.

                                              1. re: Whosyerkitty

                                                But not mayo. I have a mex. friend that uses tomatillo and avacado, but not mayo. Funny I love may, make my own, but not in The Holy Guacamole (humor) :o)

                                          2. re: AHan

                                            AHan, something that can be called "BBQ" is available pretty much worldwide. Anywhere that people have meat and fire. Pork, beef, goat, mutton/lamb, what have you. Some places do a better job and become known for a particular style.

                                            The name we use in the US may derive from "barbacoa" as Passdumkeg speculates because of the Spanish influence in the Americas. Southern port cities were heavily influenced by the Caribbean trade; less so the port cities on the northern Eastern Seaboard.

                                            1. re: MakingSense

                                              Your point? The OP stated BBQ is a food of the southwest and that is not done well in the northeast. I beg to differ. There is no tradition of "Arizona BBQ" as a particular style, and there is excellent BBQ to be had in the NE. American BBQ, in all its iterations, as well as the word itself, is widely recognized as West Indian (Carribbean), not Mexican.

                                              1. re: AHan

                                                You are welcome to your personal opinions but they may not be widely shared.
                                                Most Southerners or Texans would seriously disagree that even decent BBQ, much less "excellent," of any variety can be found North of a few places in Virginia, W. Virginia, or Kentucky. Many consider it a serious trade-off if they chose to live way up there.

                                                Perhaps the WORD "barbeque" is of Spanish origin by way of the Caribbean trade routes, but the cooking tradition is hardly derivative, and that source is certainly NOT "widely recognized."
                                                There are many long, long threads on CH about this and you'd find little support.

                                                1. re: MakingSense

                                                  I'll end here by saying there is plenty of literature and source material of the history of BBQ, and the voicings of a few chowhound posters is hardly evidence of its history. It IS widely recognized as to it's origins, even if you do not agree with it. You might start with wikipedia, or google barbecue for other reputable sources. The word didn't arrive here without the food.

                                                  As for your geographic point, you're just as likely to find the same folks suggesting there is no decent BBQ anywhere WEST of Texas either, and that would be the Southwest that Passadunkeg states makes great BBQ. I never said that the Northeast has the same BBQ tradition as the South, but we certainly have no less ability than Southwesterners, and there is some excellent BBQ to be had here--some even in restaruants. A region not specializing in a cuisine is hardly reason to claim that NOBODY there can do a good job with it.

                                          3. re: Passadumkeg

                                            Passadumkeg, why would there be any tradition of Mexican or SW'ern food in the NE??
                                            Simple history and geography would show that there is as little reason for it as for Norgwegian food in New Mexico. It's hard to cook food well if you have no standard to compare it to.
                                            We find pockets of culinary influence in places for a reason. Like a beer tradition and great sausages in Milwaukee because of German settlers. Or those great sausages in New Braunfels. Many credit the Czech and German trail cooks on cattle drives with the origins of Texas BBQ brisket.
                                            NYers bemoan finding decent bagels outside of NY. Can you find good clam chowder or a real lobster roll South of - where? - Cape Cod? Providence?
                                            That would be a fluke.

                                            Food has a terroir for a reason. Usually history or geography, migrations, and it is ultimately local and seasonal.

                                            1. re: MakingSense

                                              My point exactly. Our son came home from college at Xmas and met some friends at The Mex, a popular landmark. Afterward, he said something to the effect, that now he know why I warned him about eating Mexican food in Maine. He called it expensive, tasteless bean & cheese glop. No one speaks Spanish, the locals love it and think this is what real Mexican food. Sad.

                                              1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                In all the years that you spent bumming around the world, how often did you have a good hamburger?
                                                Now, how easy should THAT be to make? Some properly ground meat. A simple bun. A leaf of lettuce. A slice of tomato. A slice of onion.
                                                Sooner of later, in some far-flung corner, you or one of your kids gets a little home-sick for that taste of the olde sod and you break down.
                                                That burger always disappoints. Every time.
                                                They READ about them, know about them, but can't do it.
                                                (yeah, yeah, I know it's hard in the US, too, but these are waaay off somehow.)

                                                1. re: MakingSense

                                                  How true! The Whimpy's chain in the UK is terrible. As a young man in the USSR for a year, I broke down once and went to the embassy cafeteria for a burger and milkshake. In Santa Cruz, Bolivia, however, the was a place w/ great char broiled burgers, run by an American expat,naturally. The food I really missed, however, was hot Italian sausage.
                                                  I thought you'd like to know that when I make gumbo, I call it Gringo Gumbo, because I'm not sure what is authentic.

                                                  1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                    This Gringo Gumbo, do you make it with fresh gringo or gringo sausage?

                                                    1. re: BobB

                                                      Used to use fat ones, but I'm on a diet and try to use skinny ones, but they are getting hard to find. It's too difficult to make it "authentic" gumbo because I'd have to drive all the way down to some submerged La. parish, kidnap a local and keep him alive the whole drive back to Maine in order to make real Cajun Gumbo.
                                                      An aside: The word Cajun is a corruption of Acadian from the British ethnic cleansing of Nova Scotia after the French and Indian (Seven Years) War. Just like good ol' Longfellow told it in "Evangeline".

                                                  2. re: MakingSense

                                                    Hey hey, The fast food chains in the UK are awful, but my hamburgers... they are to die for. Check it out, diced onions, finely chopped steak, olive oil and egg, and then served in a crusty bun with gorgonzola. I LOVE them!!!

                                                    As always, sometimes you have to keep it pretty simple.

                                                    1. re: Soop

                                                      How Brrrritish! Fond memories of my Norsk and Finn burgers, open face w/ fried egg & fried onions & mayo.
                                                      Fried egg not common in 'Merica
                                                      Where in the UK? Kent? Devon? Lincs.?

                                                      1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                        Sorry dude, I hope I don't offend you but I never post any details like that online! Just policy :)

                                                        I must say, a fried egg is tricky - I use one egg per 500g of meat just to bind. The oliveoil is just a touch for flavour (along with salt and black pepper, natch).

                                                        Also, I would say that even after refrigerating for a while, the patties are still loose, and crumble easily, but that's part of their charm. Still, it might change now I have a really good knife to chop with.

                                                        How do you guys bind your home made burgers? I think I learned the egg thing from my nan (mums mum)

                                                        1. re: Soop

                                                          American burgers are not bound, they're typically just beef, maybe with salt & pepper added, sometimes some herbs. Ground beef with egg added would be considered a meatball, not a burger.

                                                          I've rarely had a burger in the UK that tastes like an American one, they usually have too much stuff added.

                                                          I'm guessing your nan was not a Yank, right?

                                                          1. re: BobB

                                                            Yeah, she was English. I'm surprised, I thought "sloppy joes" would be the result of no binding agent.

                                                            How do you think my burgers measure up?

                                                            1. re: Soop

                                                              I think that adding the egg & oil are what makes yours fall apart. Ground beef by itself holds together just fine. Try just plain ground beef (ideally, ground chuck) with a little salt & pepper and you'll be eating an American-style burger. Also, try to handle the beef as little as possible, just enough to form the patty.

                                                              Sloppy joes are as loose as they are because the ground beef is intentionally broken up and cooked in a tomato-based sauce.

                                                              1. re: BobB

                                                                Lunch time, back at work! If British ground beef is as lean as that in Norway and Finland, you needed to well grease the pan to fry it. And the egg was commonly fried and served on top w/ fried onions.
                                                                Soop, I don't care, merely curious I traveled the UK a lot.

                                                                1. re: BobB

                                                                  I don't like ground beef. Somehow it manages to be quite flavourless to me; I tent to finely chop a cheap cut where it would normally be used. I may get some ground at a good butcher I just found.

                                                                2. re: Soop

                                                                  Another issue arises with the majority of UK beef being grass feed, it's much harder to make a good American style hamburger with due to the leanness.

                                                                  1. re: Soop

                                                                    Sloppy joes in America, , are sort of a tomato sauce/bbq sauce ground meat sandwich, Mostly made with a can of manwich :)
                                                                    There is a sandwich such as you describe in the US though. It's called either a loose meat or a Maid-Rite, after the main purveyors of them.
                                                                    http://www.maid-rite.com/aboutus/uniq...
                                                                    midwestern outposts , for the most part.

                                                                  2. re: BobB

                                                                    Depends on if you are talking restaurants or people's homes. I see a lot of home burgers with fillers or binders. My grandfather and my parents, Americans all, added bread crumbs and eggs to the ground beef. Not me though.

                                                  3. I don't get it either. Although I'm from Louisiana and get all worked up when I see high-end restaurants calling some weird concoction "gumbo" just because they've tossed okra and andouille in it, I think posters sharing their recipes on chowhound deserve a little more leeway. I put beans in my chili because that's what my grandmother did, and that's how I like it. It's still chili to me...I don't really know what else I'd call it, other than "bean chili". I've never put mayo in guac, but if it makes it silkier or something, and someone wants to offer up that suggestion, that's fine with me. Giving advice, tips, and personal preferences around the recipe boards isn't going to change a food historian's definition of a dish, right?

                                                    1. finding this topic fascinating.

                                                      My first reactin was, I don't care if a person wants to put mayo in guac, but I really do care. A thin film to keep it from darkening is OK, but not as an ingredient.

                                                      Same with beans and chili. My story is the same, grew up with kidney bean chili and tons of crushed saltines. Didn't know I even liked chili until I had it without beans. I will pick out the beans now.

                                                      the more I read on this thread I realized that it does matter. And then I though of the night I ordered pasta with pesto and was served pasta with pesto-flavored cream sauce. I sent it back because pesto is pesto and cream sauce is cream sauce

                                                      1. Perhaps, some foods are specific.

                                                        The aforementioned Reuben Sandwich - What makes it a Reuben? The Kraut? The Dressing? Pastrami? Corned Beef? Mustard? The Bread? If I substituted ketchup for mustard, would it still be a Reuben?

                                                        If I substituted Ham for Beef, would it still be Beef Wellington? or is it Ham Wellington?

                                                        Then again, there’s non-specific foods – Apple Pie, we each have our own recipes. There’s no one way to make it. If I filled it with peaches, it’s a peach pie.

                                                        I think for marketing purposes some foods get bastardized. I’ve had Turkey Reubens, not a Grilled Turkey Sandwich on Pumpernickel. The “Reuben” evokes in the mind a delicious sandwich, so this new version should be good too. (And it was!)

                                                        I believe I am somewhat of a purist. Apple Pie and Mac and Cheese are non-specific foods that can be tampered with and still be called the same thing, but Coq-au-vin wouldn’t be Coq-au-vin if you replaced the chicken with veal.

                                                        Sorry guys, I hope I haven’t muddied the water on this one.

                                                        1. Who gives? Eat what you like. Call it what you will. IMHO anyone who has a quibble is just trying to show off their 'superior' food knowledge...I may disagree with something you put in your guacamole, but I can usually manage to keep my mouth shut about it!

                                                          --Then again, if we all did that there'd be no Chowhound, would there...?? ;)

                                                          1. I'm not convinced that "non-traditionalist" and "purist" have to be mutually exclusive. I love to experiment with food and come up with my own recipes. When the results are really good, I write them down lest I forget what I did. And there are occasions when I just have to recreate a classic among classics, then revel in its great flavor and my preferred paired wine.

                                                            What I do have a serious problem with is slap dash mixing of purist (classic) food terminology with "creative" foods, whether derivative or completely original. For gods sake, do NOT take a classic Tournedos Rossini and omit the crouton, substitute a patty of ground Kobe beef for the tournedo, then slip in a slice of tofu to replace the foi gras and replace the truffle with a spear of chive and still call it Tournedos Rossini. It is NOT! And Alice Waters is an idiot for offering "beef osso bucco" on her menu. If you cannot get veal shanks, you CANNOT make osso buco! Alice, WAKE UP! There are some things that just cannot be done. You cannot, for instance, make baklava using puff pastry instead of buttered layers of phyllo. You cannot use a rabbit to make coq au vin. You cannot make strawberry shortcake using asparagus.

                                                            So if these "creative minds" can come up with new variations on a theme, or indeed with totally new things, why aren't they creative enough to come up with a new word or words for it? Why do they have to use words that already have clear and established meanings to tag their creations? We seem to live in a world of George Foremans when it comes to chefs and other "food-centrics" finding original names for their culinary children!

                                                            11 Replies
                                                            1. re: Caroline1

                                                              Lobster Benedict by any other name would still smell as sweet.

                                                              1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                You better be nice or the Canadian Bacons will attack you! Besides, I'm a purist with lobster. Don't want no damned poached egg and Bearnaise sauce polluting MY lobster! '-)

                                                                1. re: Caroline1

                                                                  Lobster for me is like beef for One gets tired of steaks or lobster if eaten often enough.. I used to trade my ham sandwiches for my students' lobster sandwiches at lunch. They were sooo tired of them.

                                                                2. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                  What in the world is "lobster benedict"?
                                                                  At least the good chefs of New Orleans had the grace to give various egg dishes their own discreet names. Eggs Sardou. Eggs Florentine. Eggs Nouvelle Orleans. You KNEW what you were ordering!

                                                                  Caroline has an excellent point. Create a dish. Create a name for it. Don't tag on to the same-old, same-old.

                                                                  1. re: MakingSense

                                                                    This is a small rural "diner" that is trying to sound nice. They make damn good food, the best corned beef hash, I've ever eaten. They have a similar item with a crab cake called Eggs Loraine, after the cook. Last time I ate at the counter I was rubbing elbows with a lobsterman on one side and a truck driver on the other.

                                                                    1. re: MakingSense

                                                                      So spaghetti can only be made one way ... I make lobster benedict, California benedict ... I don't claim it is traditional but most people that eat MOST associate benedict with a style of how the egg is made with a muffin, meat poached egg and hollandaise. It doesn't bother me calling it benedict, I just changed the meat or the type of roll. Why is it such a big deal. I never proclaim it is original but I try to add a extra adjative that makes it mine or what I made. I've been making my Lobster benedict for 20 years and I got the recipe from a old friend in Maine and that is what he called it and he got it from grandma. So where does it start. According to my friend she hated bacon so she substituted lobster, because they always had it ... she said every did in her town. They even served it at the restaurants.

                                                                      My grandmother made spaghetti which she called spaghetti which she got from her grandmother ... etc and it was pasta, egg, bacon and cream. Is that true spaghetti or is Ragu or a tomato base ...

                                                                      1. re: kchurchill5

                                                                        I'm not sure where the spaghetti thing came from. But, in one sense, yeah there's only one thing that can be called spaghetti - the long, thin pasta. There isn't a universally known dish called "spaghetti" that most everyone thinks of when you say the name. They think of the pasta.

                                                                        When you say "Eggs Benedict" most everyone knows you means just what you described. I happen to think your "lobster benedict" name is enough of a variation that most everyone would know exactly what you mean though I suppose a few might initially think you meant swapping lobster out for the eggs (which actually sounds like a good dish, too).

                                                                        1. re: kchurchill5

                                                                          Why didn't they call it "Eggs Down East" or some similar name to signify that it was something special. After all, it was something that would stand on its own like Eggs Sardou or Egg Florentine.
                                                                          "Benedict" had a specific meaning when it was attached to a specific dish. Using it willy-niily is silly.

                                                                        2. re: MakingSense

                                                                          I'm basically in agreement (as noted above) that people should stick with the name of a dish and call new dishes something else.

                                                                          In this case, I think "lobster benedict" is enough of a variation on the original name to make it clear what's going on. Well, so long as the only switch in the dish is lobster for pork product. The "eggs _fill in the blank_" dishes didn't mean much of anything on their own without a menu description anyhow. Some of the variations you note have been around long enough to have the shared understanding and definition. But in those cases, several components of the Eggs Benedict model have been altered. In the case where you stick with an english muffin half, poached egg and hollandaise, I think it's reasonable to add the key descriptor.

                                                                          1. re: ccbweb

                                                                            What's the origin or meaning this 'benedict'?

                                                                            I have a French Cookbook by a chef who worked for 40 yrs at the Ritz Carlton. His 'Oeufs Poches Benedictine' has broiled ham, English muffin, poached egg, hollandiase, and a slice of truffle. A fancy French name for a dish using an English muffin?

                                                                            In the Larousse Gastronomique (1960s edition) 'a la benedictine' is described as 'garnish suitable for poached fish or eggs, composed of a 'brandade' of cod and truffles. Brandade is some sort of pounded salt cod. What do these have in common? the truffles?

                                                                            1970s Joy of Cooking suggests substituting oysters for eggs (in the Eggs Benedict recipe).

                                                                            The 1997 Joy attributes Eggs Benedict to Delmonico's Restarant in the 1920s, and then goes on to discuss variations (spinach, tomatoes, artichoke bottoms for the ham, toast, corn bread or potato pancakes for the English muffin, even Bearnaise or Mornay for the Hollandaise).

                                                                            I find the idea of folks in Maine adopting a highfalutin big-city dish as their own, by substituting lobster for Canadian Bacon, quite appealing. I'm imaging stuffed-shirts at Sunday brunch with their noses in the air, looking down on Maine lobstermen who can't afford to garnish their breakfast dish with a slice of imported truffle.

                                                                            1. re: paulj

                                                                              And there you go. Everything starts somewhere and often has multiple origins. I do think that "Eggs Benedict" has a well understood meaning now such that variations must be specified. As I've noted, I think lobster benedict covers that well enough.

                                                                    2. It's just a temporary affect, besides the lobster won't mind ...